The Poisoned Brexit Extension Request

Entry in Oxford Business Law Blog.


Assume you are the British Prime Minister and your preference ranking on Brexit is as follows. Your primary goal is for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) on 31 October 2019 on the terms you recently proposed for a ‘New Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland’. If you cannot achieve this, you want the UK to leave the EU on 31 October 2019 without a deal. Your third-best option is to agree a Brexit extension until 31 January 2020 during which, ideally, your proposed deal will be finalised. You prefer option two to option three because your main aim is to ‘Get Brexit Done’. Of course, you want to comply with all the law, in particular with the so-called Benn Act. This Act requires you to seek an extension of the Article 50, Treaty on European Union (TEU) period until 31 January 2020 no later than 19 October if neither a withdrawal agreement nor ‘no deal’ have been approved by Parliament on or before the latter date. What is your strategy?